ONE OF THE MOST headlinegrabbing features of the hotly anticipated Canon R5 that was announced with such a fanfare in mid-July was the inclusion of 8K video and, as a wow factor, it takes some beating. But when the dust has settled and professionals take a more measured look at what this feature actually brings to the table, how useful will it actually prove to be and is this something that the professional photographer who is considering adding some video production to the mix actually going to be using all that much?
To help us answer that question and others that regularly arise regarding the whole issue of what resolution you should be filming in, we turned to Jake Ratcliffe, one of CVP’s resident team of technical experts.
Having made the journey from a stills background into filmmaking himself, Jake is perfectly placed to see the bigger picture and to offer customers to the store an informed opinion regarding hybrid issues such as this.
“The introduction of 8K Raw shooting in the R5 is essentially Canon telling the industry ‘we’re back!,” he says. “It’s an indicator of things to come and it’s Canon showcasing how much power they have managed to pack into such a tiny mirrorless camera. In practice, however, it won’t be practical for a lot of people because of the huge file sizes and the whole question of storage that comes along with this. I think the really interesting mode for most filmmakers is downsampled 4K.
“If you’re a solo shooter who is going to be doing the editing and colouring yourself it’s really important to understand the basics of a high resolution workflow. Larger files mean more data and longer transfer times. I really recommend editing your rushes off either a nice fast SSD, which could be internal or external via
USB-3/C or Thunderbolt 3 if you can and then, once you’ve finished the project, you can offload onto a slower but larger storage system, preferably a highly dependable RAID device.
“The other thing to consider is the performance of your editor (NLE) of choice, as well as what codec you’re opting to shoot your footage in. Most mirrorless cameras will use codecs that won’t play back particularly well in post, so it may be worth transcoding your rushes to ProRes, which plays back really well. However, this does add an extra step to your workflow.”
There are also well highlighted cooling issues with the new R5 when 8K is employed, although this is only a problem if longer sequences are being filmed. “This isn’t anything new,” Jake observes. “There have been mirrorless cameras in the past that overheat and even cinema cameras with built-in fans can overheat at times. The R5 suffers slightly more than the R6 due to the higher resolution sensor and more robust codec options. However, both cameras can output CLOG or HDR PQ 4K 60P 4:2:2 10-bit out of the micro HDMI, which will not only circumvent the 30-minute recording limit but will also help to reduce the amount of processing the camera is doing which, in turn, will allow it to produce less heat.”
Shooting in 4K
So, while on some levels 8K could be a step too far for those who aren’t dedicated filmmakers at the moment, what about 4K, which is far more freely available and which appears to have been picked up as the de facto benchmark for so many video producers to be working in? This resolution has been around for a while and it is available on
even relatively low end cameras these days, but it still takes up a fair degree of processing power and a lot more storage space than HD. Why would a photographer working on a video production be looking to shoot in 4K with all the attendant extra issues to consider when the end result might only be designed to be viewed on the web?
“The fact is that, even if you’re delivering your video in 1080p on a platform such as YouTube there are very good reasons why you should be shooting the original footage in a higher resolution,” says Jake. “One of these concerns 4K downsampling. This is where you shoot in 4K but then in your editor of choice you create a 1080p sequence and resize your clip down to this level. This results in overall better image quality by helping with anti-aliasing, resolution and signal-to-noise ratio.
“As well as the ability to downsample, shooting at a higher resolution will grant you extra flexibility in post-production because it gives you scope to re-frame your shot and to create fake camera moves such as pans or zooms. You can even stabilise your footage or create multiple shots from one frame, all the while not suffering any loss of resolution. A lot of filmmakers shoot 4K even though their delivery may be only 1080p for this reason, and now that cameras like the Canon EOS R5 are bringing 8K to a more affordable price point this is clearly going to be another option down the line.
“It’s early days yet on this format, but as all the support builds up it will becomemore user friendly and affordable and the extra editing options that you’ll have with this kind of footage will be off the scale. You would also be able to pull a single frame out of the footage and create a high resolution still, so those who are looking to capture the peak of the action will certainly be interested in this facility.”
Jake also makes the point that many clients will be expecting delivery of a video to be in 4K to cover all bases – in simple terms you can downscale a production but you can’t go the other way – while anyone shooting clips for stock will also find that 4K is more or less mandatory these days.
Looking for Options
If you’ve made a call to shoot most of your video production in 4K and 8K isn’t really something you’re seriously considering at the moment then you have a huge range of options at your disposal. This includes an increasing number of high performing and well featured mirrorless models, such as the Panasonic GH5 and GH5S and the Sony Alpha range, with ex-VAT prices often sub-£1000, ensuring that the affordability box is well and truly ticked.
Referring back to the recent Canon launches it also means that there is a strong case for the R6 being the camera that some might favour over the flagship R5, with the price differential being a cool £1700 and the feature set being more aimed at the everyday requirements of the jobbing professional.
“The R5 features a broad range of codecs internally,” explains Jake, “but having the option to shoot externally with the R6 via an Atomos Monitor/Recorder, such as the Ninja V, will allow you to record in ProRes, which will give you better quality than the internal IPB codec and better playback in NLEs, but will be larger than the internal codecs.
“What makes the R6 a really interesting option over the R5 is the fact that Canon has stated the R6 has 14.5 stops of dynamic range, which is a stop more than the 13.5 of the R5. It should also perform better in low light, though you will be missing out on the upgraded viewfinder, top screen, 8K Raw and 4K 120p capabilities that the R5 offers. Otherwise, the two cameras are incredibly similar and most of the headline specs still feature on the R6, such as DAF V2, in-body image stabilisation, 12fps mechanical and 20fps in electronic shutter mode and 4K 60p. You can pick up the R6 with an Atomos Ninja V and all the accessories you need for less outlay than the R5 and, for some, this could be a smarter investment.”
If you want to learn more about what you need to get a smooth production experience from pre to post contact CVP at www.cvp.com.
ONE OF CVP’s resident team of technical experts, and a self-confessed camera nerd who gets way too excited over kit, Jake’s background mirrors that of so many creatives these days. After graduating with a degree in photography he took up a freelance career and found that many of his clients were asking for video services so, rather than turn the work away, he started to teach himself the filmmaking basics. Having been based at CVP for four years now, Jake epitomises the ‘equipment agnostic’ approach of the company and devotes his time to advising customers who might be looking for impartial feedback on which products to invest in as they look to make the same journey into motion.
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